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Movie Review- ‘In The Heights’

Guest writer, movie & entertainment fan Ryan Ellermann shares his thoughts of this Broadway show turned movie.

This year, no movie better embraces the heat and fun of summer better than IN THE HEIGHTS.

Directed by Jon M. Chu and adapted from the musical of the same name by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes, IN THE HEIGHTS is a movie that captures the moment, bursting with fire and passion, and stacked with great performances and powerful moments. IN THE HEIGHTS follows the story of Usnavi (played brilliantly by Anthony Ramos in his first leading film role), a bodega owner who has complicated feelings about the closing of his store and the changing landscape of his neighborhood, Washington Heights. Starring a diverse cast of mostly newcomers, this movie is a blast from start to finish, packed with epic musical numbers and emotional gut punches.

The talent on display is immense, from the actors & dancers on screen to the many different technical elements such as costuming, lighting, and production design. Standouts include Ramos, Corey Hawkins (Benny), Melissa Barrera (Vanessa), and icon Jimmy Smits (Mr. Rosario). Daphne Rubin-Vega, another major standout, steals every scene she is in as Daniela the salon owner, starring in two of the most memorable musical numbers in the film. But perhaps the most memorable performance of the film, though, comes from Olga Merediz, reprising her role of Abuela Claudia from the original Broadway production. Her big song “Paciencia y Fe” will leave you in awe (and in tears). It is one of the most jaw-dropping numbers in the film, and Merediz’s performance is sure to garner buzz for a Best Supporting Actress nomination later this year.

The film is not without its flaws. Criticisms of the casting not reflecting the predominantly Afro-Latinx community in Washington Heights should be heard and learned from, and there were sections of the film that could have used a bit of tightening in the editing room. Despite these shortcomings, the heart of this movie is good, and deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible!

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